What is Self-Touring or Self-Showing Technology?

What is self-showing or self-touring technology?

Self-touring technology allows a prospective renter to physically visit a vacant property without a manager or agent present. Renters can instantly book an appointment, saving countless hours finding a property to rent, and managers can streamline operations by supplementing traditional leasing office hours to easily conduct weekend and after-hour tours.

Which companies facilitate self-showing?

Rently,  Showmojo and Tenant Turner are the two most popular companies.

Rently is used by large companies like Invitation Homes, American Homes 4 Rent and many large property management companies. They offer their own lockboxes and showing coordination software. Everything is easy to use and intuitive for tenants and managers. The only negative is having to rent their lockboxes. This can get expensive if you have many properties on the market.

Showmojo is used by property managers and landlords with more rentals.
I find their software not as user friendly, on the other hand the choice of buying your own lockboxes instead of renting them is attractive.

Tenant Turner is the showing coordination that’s also integrated with Buildium. You can use your lockbox or Codebox. This is the best option for individual landlords and smaller property management companies. 

Codebox is an alternative for small investors with only a couple of properties.  Codebox is much more affordable but it doesn’t have all the automation as the other two apps.

What is the cost?

Rently’s app is $30 per month plus $30 per lockbox.

Showmojo has different plans but the most popular is around $79 per month, they just introduced their own lock boxes. Not sure what the price will be for that.

Tenant Turner is $1 per month per unit under management, $50 minimum. If you use Tenant Turner through Buildium, the price starts at $30.

Codebox is the most affordable. the lockboxes are around $55 plus very minimal monthly charge, less than a dollar. Codebox doesn’t offer showing coordination.

So how does Rently work? 

Rently syndicates rental listing to 50 plus sites including Zillow and Realtor.com. Prospective tenants are asked to schedule a self-showing tour online and to prove their identity using a credit card and an ID. 

After they schedule the showing and when they are at the property, they are given a one-time code to open the lockbox.

Potential tenants are asked questions about the condition of the property after they put back the key in the lockbox and emailed a link to an application.

All of this happens without an agent driving to the property. 

Doesn’t this appear intrusive to tenants?

Most tenants have no issue with self-touring because the major investors like Progress, American Homes 4Rent are also using Rently, so once a tenant verifies their identity, they can tour all homes on the market that are shown by Rently.

This is a major benefit that we didn’t realize we were going to get until we started using Rently. We got so much traffic from the major investors’ sites that using this technology was worth it even for just for the extra leads.

All of our rental properties were rented much faster with Rently than with us showing the homes.

Rently is our favorite self showing technology for couple of reasons. Everything is highly automated. Literally, all you have to do is put a lockbox on the door and wait for applications. 

Why Landlords and Property Managers are still reluctant to embrace this technology?

The simple answer is: most of us like familiar things and technology. I see self showing being embraced not only in the rental market but also in real estate showings. It’s not a question of if but when.

That being said I will go over some of the major fears that currently exist with self showing. 

I don’t want to expose myself to risk and liability. What happens if someone slips and falls.

This is what insurance is for. It doesn’t matter if the tenants are alone or someone, an agent for example, is showing them the property, the possibility of someone getting hurt is there. 

Managing a tenant I met personally is much easier in the long run.

There is something to be said for having a good working relationship with your tenants. But this relationship can start after you approve a tenant, it’s not necessary to start at the first showing of the property.

I need to meet someone in person before deciding to rent to them. I am a good judge of character.

Research has shown that we are only good judges of character when the people we judge are open and honest. This is an interesting article on the topic from BBC.

It exposes the owner to potential theft and damage.

I have used Rently for years on hundreds of properties without a single incident. Showmojo offers insurance in case anything like that happens. 

Someone can move in and I can’t get them out.

You can call the police to escort them out because they are trespassing.

Why Property Managers and Landlords should consider self-showing?

Convenience for the tenant and property manager which leads to more showings.

If potential tenants and agents call while in the area showing properties and they see your sign, can you show them the rental immediately? If you can’t, it’s highly unlikely they will come back another day to look, so you lost them as potential tenants. They may be in town only for a day or two. Make it convenient to show and you will rent your property faster. 

Piggyback on larger companies marketing budgets.

This one was a surprise for and a bonus when we started using self showing. Why?

Corporate rentals in some areas of the country are 60% of the total properties on the market. I call them corporate but what I mean is they are owned by big corporations like Invitation Homes, Progress, American Homes for Rent. These companies are spending a lot of money on marketing and are using Rently or Showmojo self-showing technology.

When a potential tenant looks to rent a home, at some point, they will have to sign up with Rently, register with their ID, credit card, email and cell phone number and go to look at the property they were interested in.

If for whatever reason they don’t like it, what do you think they do next? You guessed it, they will look at Rently for more properties because they are already screened and they can enter and see any home that’s available on Rently.com So if your rental is listed there it will be found by hundreds of people. 

That’s what happened to us.  

Pre-screened tenants

Before someone can see the property the are asked pre-qualifying questions you can set up in the app. Only the ones that are good fit for your property can see it. 

Feedback on the condition and pricing

You get feedback on the property which is great in a slow market. After potential tenant see the property they receive a link to the  application automatically and are asked follow up questions. 

The benefits of using this technology far outweigh the potential risk. In the future, we will wonder how we could have done our job without it.

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